Blessed John Paul the Great was the first to say that “we are the Easter people and ‘Alleluia’ is our song.” There is no cause to disagree with him, but I would like to expand the idea a bit. We are indeed the Easter people, but we are no less the Lenten people and the Christmas people. The seasons of the Church year give us an opportunity to concentrate on these various aspects of our relationship with God.
For the past week, and for the next three weeks, we are the Advent people and “Veni, Veni Emmanuel” is our song. The readings this past week have been building an atmosphere of expectation. We can see how the people of Israel were anxious for a savior. We have heard the promises that were extended throughout the Old Testament. We have seen their fulfillment each day in the Gospel. There will be food for all, and so there was. The lame will walk, and so they did. The blind will see, and so they have.
Today marks an important line. Up to this point Jesus has been like a great prophet, but nothing more. What has he done that Moses or Elijah did not do? Today, however, he does something new. He sends forth the twelve Apostles with power like his. This is truly a new power. Jesus does not simply have a special relationship with God, giving him power to work miracles. The power comes from within him, and he, himself, is able to give this power to anyone he wishes. When we consider that even Judas, a greedy thief who would be the betrayer, received power from Jesus for healing and casting out demons, we are assured that our own unworthiness is not an impediment to God using us as his instrument. It is also clear that when he does so use us, that will be no proof of our salvation.
We are the Advent people, and Advent does not mean "waiting" but "coming". Jesus Christ has come into the world. Jesus Christ will come again in Glory to judge the living and the dead. Meanwhile, which is to say right now, Jesus is coming into the world. He is ever more and more present as he fulfills his extravagant promises, fulfills them through us, in spite of ourselves. Jesus is using us in this way, so we, the Advent people, ought to pray that we may be apt instruments in his hands, not obscuring his coming with our sins and pride, but being lampstands, so all the world may see that everything has changed, that the promised one is coming.